When the idea for my business name came to me about two years ago, the term ‘mindfulness’ was just coming onto the scene. Up until then, it had been somewhat limited to the realm of Buddhist meditation, with the exception of a series of popular books by one author in the early ‘90’s.
These days you hear it used for just about everything: Mindfulness for Cops; Mindfulness to Stop Drinking; Mindfulness for Endometriosis; Mindfulness for Mothers; How to Mindfully Change a Diaper; Mindful Coffee Consumption; Mindfulness and Planting with Colour; Mindfulness Video Games; Mindfulness Burnout. NO KIDDING!
There are countless articles with definitions of mindfulness, and all mention awareness of being in the present moment, without judgement. Equally, there are countless ways to bring this practice into your life throughout the day within your regular activities. And they are all great.
Yet, I believe mindfulness goes deeper than just being present. I believe it involves acceptance; patience; forgiveness; kindness – especially to ourselves. And this requires more than just paying attention and being present while you’re washing the dishes or playing video games. To develop these deeper aspects of ourselves requires time spent with our inner self, such as in traditional seated meditation or qigong meditation. And this relaxed state of mind is what allows the ‘intellectual mind’ to integrate with the ‘intuitive mind’.
But quieting the mind and going inward can be a bit of a challenge for those of us who entered the work world in the play-full-out, no-pain-no-gain mode of the ‘70’s and’80.’ To sit and ‘do nothing’, which is what meditation seems to be, is unthinkable. So training ourselves to stop and take time to empty the mind, to recognize the thoughts that keep flitting in are normal and let them go without berating ourselves is a big leap.
Like any skill, it’s awkward and uncomfortable at first; we feel like we’ll never get the hang of it. But the more we practice, the better we become. And the deeper we develop our awareness and inner virtues.
Even more challenging is finding the time to practice. So here are some suggestions for you:
- If you have a morning or evening routine, add 5 minutes to it for time to quiet the mind.
- Add it to your lunch period. Remember when we were in kindergarten and first grade, we got to have naps in the middle of the day? Having a short mindful/meditation session can restore your flagging energy and improve your outlook.
- If you live by your day planner, schedule an appointment with yourself. And stick to the schedule.
- Go outside during the day and walk to a quiet park or green area. Sit or stand in a grounding pose under a tree; close your eyes; use your other senses to tune in to the peace of the natural setting, and let the mind relax.
- If you commute and are not driving, use that time to tune-out the surrounding noise and tune-in to your inner state.
- Set an alarm on your phone to go off at a certain time of the day to remind you to take a few minutes for a brief meditation.
- Plan a few minutes throughout the day as part of your routine. For example, before you start your meals, before you get back to your desk from the bathroom, while you’re in the break room.
Figure out what works for you and make it your habit. Just dive in with short, easy sessions; then make them more frequent. I assure you, once you get into this healthy habit, it’s one you won’t want to miss!